I was watching TV the other day and noticed a commercial for a company named HughesNet. The video is below:

In the video we see an advertisement explaining how one can get high-speed Internet all the way out in the country. I don’t think it will be difficult for anyone reading this to make a connection to the pastoral topics we’ve been discussing in class. It seems as though this commercial was made as a parody just for us.

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“The Burbs”

Observing the pastoral in the modern world is not always easy. What comes to my mind is the suburban life that we live in. However to relate the pastoral to modern times I have to take us back to the pinnacle of the suburbs, the 80’s and early 90’s. It was a time of financial success where the desired place of living was suburbia. My favorite piece that perfectly explains this time period is Joe Dante’s “The Burbs”.

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Every fourth of the July I make my way down to a little town named Norris, Tennessee to celebrate America with my grandparents. For such a small town you would be impressed with how nuts everyone goes for this day. It seems as though this day was created to blow everything up, and it’s awesome. My favorite part of the day however is when my family and I go down the road to the Museum of Appalachia. The museum is set on a farm and is riddled with farm animals free to graze the land.  Upon observing this place it is hard not to see the pastoral themes present.

The museum showcases all kind of strange tools that were used by intuitive Appalachians back in the day. As their website explains:

The Smithsonian Institution has recognized our collections as among America’s most significant, telling the story of a brave and hardy people who carved out lives of joy and toil, often in isolation and often with too little money.

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The Stagnant Life of the Pastoral

The 15-mile commute from the Lower East side to the JFK airport took a little over 3 hours to complete. The smell of my fellow patrons on the NYC public transit system is the only thing capable of over powering the pungent smell of the streets and tunnels in which we travel. Feelings of disgust of the city overwhelm me as I depart in thesky looking forward to my destination in Kentucky. Upon arrival in Kentucky there is a deep contrast from the city in which I have come. The people, the smell and the ability to walk without worrying about running into someone fill me with happiness. Windows down, music up, I begin drive home unable to ignore the majesty of Kentucky. Images of the country and beauty consume me and I start to seep back into my former Kentuckian self. My life had become almost instantly simple allowing me to rest comfortably once again. I went on to ask myself why I had ever left Kentucky; it took me only three days to answer this question.

The reason I left Kentucky to begin with is deeply intertwined with what I believe to be the fallacy of the pastoral. We see the quaint life as some sort of utopia where all one worries about is working enough to have food on their plate and shelter over their head. Their free time allows them to bask in the greatness of the green pastures and streams in which they travel by. But the rural life is hard and is filled with its own complications. The amount of work to put a roof over ones head is considerable and leaves little time to really enjoy the beauty that surrounds them. Many times it seems as though people get stuck in the ideology of a simple life cutting them out of the rest of the world. This ruins the opportunity to see the grandeur of the rest of the world. It seems as though the pastoral praises a simple way to survive rather than acknowledges how great on can live.

I went back to NYC after seeing some dear friends and family. It seemed as though that those I had left in Kentucky remained frozen in time from when I had left them. Trading in their sense of adventure and wonder for the world for a feeling of comfort. Although life in NYC isn’t easy the privilege of being able to learn about other cultures and places greatly outweighed the feeling of comfort I had when home.

I’ll tie in my references once I begin my paper and go in more depth on my theory. If I am missing the point of the pastoral please let me know.